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How Art Thou?

Mex it up, art smarts

If anyone's prepared to own a business, it's Clare Levy. After all, the 33-year-old Odyssey Art Centers franchisee essentially started her training when she was 7 years old.

At Odyssey, elementary and middle school students learn about different historical periods while creating everything from Renaissance-style frescoes to replicas of ancient Shang vases. As a child, Levy took the classes from founder and artist Linda Perlmutter, who opened the first center in 1973.

Last year, Levy journeyed back to Sleepy Hollow, New York-based Odyssey and reunited with Perlmutter. "It was a good coincidence," says Levy. "She needed me to work in the studio, and I needed time to figure out what I wanted to do."

Opening an Odyssey Art Centers franchise of her own in Ossining, New York, was the next natural step for Levy. "This has brought together a lot of different areas of my background," says Levy, who had clients lined up before she even opened her studio in July. "I've always worked with children [in various capacities]. I'm also a creative person; I've always been interested in art and art history."

A teaching or art degree isn't required to become an Odyssey franchisee, but you do need a talent for working with different media and an interest in working with children. Perlmutter will walk you through the rest until you're a seasoned "artrepreneur."

But what's really gotten Levy's creative juices flowing? "The thing I like the most is working with the children and watching them progress," she says. "It's great to see them take pride in their artwork." Start-up costs for an Odyssey Art Centers franchise are $24,000.

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Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.

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